Italian automaker Fiat will complete separation from Tata Motors in sales operations in India by March next year and plans to have 80 dealers of its own as the Company embarks on yet another revival journey.

The company’s wholly-owned Indian arm Fiat India Automobiles Ltd (FIAL) is also in the process of hiring about 100 people for customer-facing roles.

“We have a revival plan for Fiat in India. For that it is important for us to complete the timely realignment of distribution network. By March 2013, the no Fiat car will be sold under the existing Tata-Fiat joint dealerships,” FIAL Vice-President (Commercial) Ravi Bhatia told reporters here.

Earlier in May this year Fiat and Tata Motors had announced that they would realign their JV formed in 2006 and the Italian automaker will go on its own for sales and distribution in India, instead of selling its cars in Tata-Fiat branded showrooms.

The two firms, however, had retained their partnership in car and diesel engine manufacturing operations.

Fiat, which went on a solo journey in India in 1997 after parting ways with the Premier Group, had formed the JV with Tata’s as it sought a reversal of fortune in the Indian market.

The company has so far remained a marginal player.

Bhatia said currently Fiat vehicles are sold in 174 Tata-Fiat branded showrooms in 126 cities in India but these showrooms will go to Tata Motors as part of the parting agreement.

“By March next year Fiat will have presence in 67 cities under our own dealerships and we will make up for the rest by the December 2013,” he said.

Besides strengthening of the sales network, FIAL will also be reinforcing its workforce.

“Currently we are in the process of recruiting new people. We will be hiring 100, who will be mainly on customer facing roles,” Bhatia said.

The company today introduced new variants of its sedan Linea and hatchback Punto under the ‘Absolute’ range offering freebies worth up to Rs 78,000 and Rs 67,000 respectively ahead of the festival season.

The Linea is priced between Rs 6.96 lakh and Rs 9.35 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), while Punto comes at a range from Rs 4.96 lakh to Rs 7.36 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

Asked about the company’s sales, Bhatia admitted that it has gone down due to the ongoing transition, and the company is looking “at maintaining the current rate”. In August the company sold a total of 472 units, down 55.85 per cent from the same month last year.

For the April-August period this fiscal, it sales stood at 4,061 units, down 48.44 per cent from the year-ago period.

Bhatia also said the company will be investing on brand building exercise to align with the Indian market but did not share details.

(This article was published on September 19, 2012)
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